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  1. News Release

  2. May 2, 2023

Doctors Group Files Federal Complaint Against Oregon Primate Research Center After Hundreds of Animals and Animal Fetuses Killed

Human Nutrition Should Be Studied in Humans, Group Says

BEAVERTON, Ore. — The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a national nonprofit with more than 17,000 doctor members, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) at the National Institutes of Health today, May 2, 2023, about five research studies at the Oregon National Primate Research Center that the group says violated the Animal Welfare Act. 

The Primate Research Center, part of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), has repeatedly used and killed hundreds of nonhuman primates, to study maternal and child health nutrition outcomes that could have been studied ethically and effectively in humans.

The federal law governing animals used in research says discomfort and pain to animals should be limited to that which is unavoidable for the conduct of scientifically valuable research. These nutrition studies retreat from the species of interest (humans), the Physicians Committee’s complaint says, to examine nonhuman primates—a step backward in terms of scientific relevance that demonstrates both a lack of scientific merit and research misconduct under the Animal Welfare Act.

“The Oregon National Primate Research Center’s cruel and inhumane practice of confining, breeding, and killing hundreds of monkeys, including infants and fetuses, to study the developmental and reproductive effects of human nutrition violates the Animal Welfare Act since pain, discomfort, and death of the animals is avoidable,” said Janine McCarthy, MPH, of the Physicians Committee. “Because the research objectives have been or can readily be studied in humans, such use of live animals is duplicative and needless.” 

According to McCarthy, a proper search for alternatives to animal experimentation, as required by the Animal Welfare Act, would have revealed experimental methods that do not use animals and numerous peer-reviewed articles demonstrating the equivalence or superiority of models based on human biology.

At federally funded research institutions, any use of live animals for research, testing, or training must be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). The Physicians Committee argues that inadequate oversight by the Primate Research Center’s IACUC resulted in improper approval and ongoing use of live animals for human nutrition research.

The Physicians Committee requested that APHIS and OLAW investigate the matter and order correction and appropriate penalties. 

This is not the Physicians Committee’s first allegation of improper animal use by OHSU. In December, the Physicians Committee filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and sponsored billboards near campus urging the administration to stop using live pigs in its general surgery residency program. 

For an interview with Ms. McCarthy, please contact Kim Kilbride at 202-717-8665 or at kkilbride [at]

Media Contact

Kim Kilbride



Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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